Beware of Amusement Park Dangers [Podcast]
Hazards at Theme Parks
You might be planning to usher in a last hurrah of summer by heading to an amusement park this holiday weekend. But be careful. There are approximately 4,400 injuries at these destinations. The majority of injuries involve children on rides.
Earlier this summer, a woman tragically plunged to her death on a roller coaster ride when the safety bar released, at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington.
Personal Injury Cases
Lawyers.com radio reporter Matt Plessner interviews Christopher Aitken, a partner at Aitken Aitken Cohen, in Anaheim, Calif. on the risks and your legal rights at amusement parks.
Chris handled a high profile personal injury case against Disneyland in Anaheim, where a man was killed and his wife seriously injured on a ride, the Sailing Ship Columbia. The lawsuit settled for approximately $25 million. Chris also successfully litigated a case where a person died on Disneyland’s Thunder Mountain roller coaster.
Some Statistics and Advice
He advises people to be wary of and educated on the warnings and restrictions (such as height requirements) and to follow directions given for any rides.
“Just because it’s a ride and it looks safe does not mean it necessarily is,” says Chris. He reminds people to use common sense, looking out for their own safety as well as their children’s.s
Unfortunately accidents happen. And it;s not always on the biggest and fastest roller coasters. Fixed rides, such as those at Six Flags and Disneyland, account for only 10 percent of injuries. Carousel rides, including people falling down, account of 20 percent of injuries, while bumper cars account of only five percent.
“A ride is supposed to perform as it is designed. It’s supposed to be safe. There is certainly not an assumption of risk to go onto a ride that fails,” says Chris.
If Injured, Claims Could Help You and Increase Public Safety
Chris says the claims are usually straight personal injury causes of action. When injured, people claim economic and non-economic damages. The main responsible party is the park, itself. You can name ride operators as individuals, but typically they are in the employment of the amusement park. Through “vicarious liability,” the amusement park will be liable for the ride operator’s actions.
If you are injured, contact an attorney. Special experts who have experience with amusement park rides will need to be obtained. You can also report the incident to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Chris says his firm’s representation of plaintiffs in their claims against Disneyland helped change the law in California. Amusement ride operators are required to immediately report to the state all accidents involving injuries.
According to Chris, his firm’s cases against Disneyland helped raise awareness of amusement park dangers to a national level. As a result there has been a tightening up of governmental inspections, maintenance, and ride operations and training. He advocates more regulations on amusement park safety at a federal level.
Afterall, amusement parks are a $14 billion industry.